Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Holly Aslinger, H01 Group 3: Always be a Viola

My three blog posts are going to be about being supportive, and I am going to start with the viola as a supporting instrument in musical ensembles.

I believe in the viola.
You probably don’t know what a viola is, and that’s okay. A viola is what happens when a violin and a cello have a baby, and as a result they have a slightly larger violin that sounds rich like a cello.

If you didn’t know what a viola was before, it’s probably because violas aren’t as popular of instruments as violins and cellos, and even basses. But, the violas are just as important as the violins, the cellos, the basses, and the winds and brass, because violas provide support.

The viola is used as a harmonic instrument, as opposed to a melodic instrument, because it is the most acoustically imperfect instrument in the orchestral string family. It does not speak as loudly or highly as a violin, nor as loudly and lowly as a cello. Because the viola is cast most often for harmonies in orchestral pieces, they typically go unnoticed if you aren’t listening for their sound. However, because they fill out the sound of an ensemble by completing harmonies, without violas, an orchestra’s sound would be hollow and deflated. Violas are the supporting role, the unsung heroes of the orchestra.

I believe that more people should strive to fill the role, in life, that the viola does in an orchestra. Think of all of the people that support you through your life struggles—your mother, your father, your friends, your significant others. In your life, they are the supporting roles to your lead. But, in their lives, you hopefully support them. This is not to say that violas always support and never get recognition, it simply means that as an instrument group they are not typically written virtuosic parts so that all eyes and ears are on them. I think more people should be content with stepping back and letting other people take the spotlight, the way violas typically support the melodies of other instruments, because it helps people reach their full potential in whatever their endeavors are.

When violas do get solos or melodies, they end up being super important, such as the love theme from Romeo and Juliet.

Almost everyone will recognize this theme, even though they may not know what it’s from. Violas may not always get the melody, but when they do, it is often very important and the part lasts through the ages, like this love theme. So, the support that you receive from the metaphorical violas of your life may not always necessarily be the most noticeable influence of the main action of your life, but what would you do without the constant support of these people? What would you do without the people who get you through breakups and the people who pick you up from parties at 3 in the morning because you need a ride? Those are the metaphorical viola solos of life.

You should always know who your violas are, and you should always be a viola to the people in your life. This I believe.

And now, enjoy the second movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, the Andante Con Moto. The violas begin this movement with a massive solo section, and set the foundation for what is to come.


  1. Every voice in the choir and every instrument in the orchestra is required to create beautiful music. Up with collaboration!

  2. Anonymous2:21 PM CDT

    Lovely analogy:)